In true L.A. style, when we catch up with Ali Fatourechi, he’s in his car battling L.A. traffic. Having just left a denim washhouse, he was en route back to his bungalow in Benedict Canyon and was eager to tell us all about his newly launched passion project, Adaptation. Fatourechi launched the line last year, after taking a mini sabbatical following many years as Creative Director of Genetic Denim. The time he took off means that the label is truly a reflection of his soul searching, and he couldn’t be more excited as he tells us about it via phone. “I really wanted to take this opportunity to build a super-niche brand that celebrates creativity and celebrates L.A. at the same time,” he tells The Window.
Read on to learn how Fatourechi parlayed that concept into an exciting Spring ’17 collection that includes collaborations with some of L.A.’s most sought-after creatives.
The Window: Tell us about Adaptation. Why was now the time to do this independent project?
Ali Fatourechi: I had a clothing company before but ended up selling it and exiting. I took about a year and a half off. Fashion is like The Matrix—once you’re in it, it’s impossible to get out! During my time off, I realized that the most important thing is the landscape of Los Angeles. I pride myself on the importance of L.A., and there’s been such a huge cultural shift with so much happening here in regard to art, culture, and fashion. I really looked at what was happening in the market place. As I started mulling over the idea of starting a new brand, I immersed myself in L.A. in a big way. I started meeting with artists, designers, and creatives. I wanted to see where everyone’s head was at. I decided to launch Adaptation as a stepping-stone for bringing about a cultural awareness for everything that’s going on in L.A.
So you’d say L.A. is engrained in the ethos of the brand?
For me, Adaptation about bringing the attention on a cultural level to what L.A. is all about. It’s a platform to showcase L.A. through our designs in collaboration with various people, which will continue season to season.
What sets L.A. apart from other fashion cities? How specifically did you tap into L.A. when building the brand?
I’ve lived in New York, Paris, and London. In those cities, when you leave your apartment, you’re immersed in the city. L.A. isn’t like that. It’s a city predicated on invitation—not even in an elitist manner, but in this city you need to have a final destination. My office and everything I do is in my house. It’s this synergistic little bungalow, and my doors are always open—it’s a revolving door with some great collaborators coming through. I wanted to bring that into Adaptation. That’s why in my first season I have two collaborations: The Chain Gang and artist Matt McCormick. These people don’t venture outside their neighborhoods. It’s a closed-door mentality when you think of L.A. It really took time for me to research, find these talents, and get to know them.
What does the name Adaptation mean?
Look, I’m 38 years old. I was out there in the mix in my 20s, now I’m more reclusive and into my work and staying at my house. I’ve realized that we live in a society that’s adapt or die. Fashion, technology—everything is moving at a lightening pace. That’s where we get the name. After being a 13-year veteran in the business, I realize that you constantly have to hit people with newness, freshness, and creativity. There’s so much out there, how do you differentiate yourself from others?
Tell us about about the Spring ‘17 pieces that we just got in at Barneys. What was the jumping off point for the collection?
I’m from a denim background, and my design partner comes from R13. We got together and decided to launch Adaptation, but we decided we didn’t want to just be a denim brand. Jeans are a staple, so we focused on amazing washes and silhouettes that will pair with everything we do. We are really a ready-to-wear collection with an emphasis on the friends that I have connected with over the 30+ years I’ve live in L.A. The real inspiration comes from the company we keep—our friends. This collection was a close collaboration with both The Chain Gang and Matt McCormick.
Below, Fatourechi shares a few snaps of behind the scenes of the creative process behind his Spring ’17 designs, which are currently available at Barneys.
“That’s where it all starts! Every artwork that we do, every embroidery that we do, starts as a sketch that we create ourselves.”
“Chain stitch embroidery is a dying art form. The guys from The Chain Gang guys work out of East L.A.; there’s no phone number for them. Their focus is doing one-offs on an intricate level. I sat with them, and we really worked on exactly what we wanted to achieve. There’s a tremendous amout of artisanal detail in each of the pieces that they collaborated on that simply can’t be replicated. Here, he’s rotating the needle underneath the machine stitch-by-stitch. The Embroidered Hoodie he’s working on in this photo takes 5 hours of labor per each individual piece produced.”
“This image is from Matt McCormick’s studio. He literally drew on the denim freehand. There’s the artist edition denim jacket, and then there’s the version we do via laser printer.”
A collage of mood board images that inspired Adaptation’s Spring ’17 collection, including iconic East L.A. photography and the famous Gypsy Rose lowrider.
Ali Fatourechi in his workshop, where he takes a hands-on approach to everything in the collection.